The attitude of Entitlement is killing us. I do not speak here of governmental programs of entitlement, that’s a different story, and where there is need, I cannot personally ask that the help be withdrawn, as I benefit greatly from that help. I am speaking of the attitude of entitlement. The idea that the world owes us because we are surely worthy. Yikes! Where did this attitude even originate? I have run into this article in a couple of places, and it is perfect in addressing this attitude, so I will post it’s link for you.
What seems to be lacking, according to Rabbi Heller, is an attitude of Gratitude, something I had learned many years ago from the ministry of Robert H. Schuller. Now, normally, I have little to say that is good about the televangelists that have emerged with technology, but this man seemed to walk his talk, and because of that, I have occasionally listened to him speak. Both the rabbi and the minister speak of learning that everything is a gift. That includes our health, our job, our very breath. We are not owed these things, they are given for our ultimate benefit. When we believe the world owes us, we get surly, angry, and have no patience with the others that are in our way. It is this attitude that makes it possible to kill another human simply because we want the shoes they are wearing.It is this attitude that lets a mother kill her only child because the child is in the way when she wants to do something, like partying.
The world does NOT owe us. We owe the world. An old sage once said that the “service you do is the rent you pay for the space you take up.” We are not here to learn to grab the brass ring, we are here to learn to love. That’s a tall order. I have found myself both amused and aghast at those who would say that teaching and preaching Love as the way of the Enlightened is wishy-washy. Try living it for a while. It is most difficult, and there are many things to learn before we can even begin to operate at that level. We must learn first to be detached from “things”, knowing that they are only temporary, and do not fulfill our greater needs. Further, we must learn to be detached in a gracious manner from the gratitude of others when we “do” for them. We are doing that for our own benefit, to learn to give without strings. We are learning to give because it is the right thing to do, not because we desire a sense of indebtedness from them.
It is for this reason that we must be sure that what we give is right for the situation, so that we do not make things worse for those who benefit from our gifting. Most often we find that it is our time and our attention that benefit others most, not the “things” we can give. This means learning to actively listen when another comes to us with their sorrow or pain. We must even learn to actively listen and enjoy when they come to us with the high points of their lives.We must learn to operate outside the boundaries of our selves. When we cannot do good, we must learn to do no harm. This means walking a balanced path within that lets them be who they are, while we learn who we want to be.
We are not “entitled” to respect. That must be earned, but we must first learn to respect. This includes the boundaries of those we would hope to help. Unfortunately, those who embark on charitable missions look at a situation and decide what is needed according to their own perspective of another person’s life. This is like giving potatoes to a person who has lived their entire life on rice. They don’t know how to use the potato, and it rots in a pile of debris, rather than filling the bellies of hungry children. We must learn to give what is needed, not what we think is needed. The most loving thing we can do is ask, “What do you need?” If it is within our grasp to give what is needed, we are in a good position to do so, if we cannot give what is most needed, then perhaps we need to look around and see if there is another on the Path that can give the needed benefit. This is another area that is difficult, for many times we must learn that it is not all about us, but about providing that which benefits most. As I have said, and many before me who are much wiser, learning true kindness is not an easy life to live. But, when you do learn to be compassionate to others, truly compassionate, you will have happiness within yourself, and you will have given happiness to others as well.